Thursday, October 06, 2011

What He Did, and What He Didn't Do

Steve Jobs died yesterday. I read an article that Malcolm Gladwell wrote earlier this year in the New Yorker about how Jobs had a reputation as a pure, Edison-esque inventor that he hadn't quite earned. Gladwell recounts Jobs' visit to a Xerox facility in the 1970s where engineers were building what would later come to be called a Personal Computer. And it had a mouse. Jobs would later perfect the idea, and the rest is history.

The article recounts a number of instances where companies were developing technologies but didn't realize their application, and let them fall to the cutting room floor. If it weren't for guys like Jobs, inventions like the mouse and the laser printer would have collected dust in a warehouse.

If you think about it, Jobs didn't invent the PC, or the touch screen, or the smartphone, or any of the things that we think of him as "inventing." What Jobs did was probably more difficult - he was able to package and present technologies in a way that impacted the way people lived.

Malcolm Gladwell - Creation Myth